OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A former Senate Judiciary Committee staffer and current head of a conservative legal organization has laid out a scenario wherein Vice President Kamala Harris could become president and serve ten years in office — two more than a traditional two-term president.
In a tweet, Mike Davis, who served as chief counsel for judicial nominations for the committee, wrote that per the 22nd Amendment, Harris could become the longest-serving president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was elected to four terms before the passage of that amendment, which limits presidential terms to two.
“Per the 22nd Amendment, if President Biden leaves office after January 20, 2023, a President Harris could still run for two 4-year terms (10 years total). If Biden left office before then, Harris could only run for one 4-year term (6 years total),” he pointed out in a tweet containing a link to a Congress.gov site explaining the amendment, which says, in part:
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
The amendment was ratified by the requisite number of states in 1951.
The most recent incident of a vice president having the opportunity to serve more than two terms occurred in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson became president and served the remaining one-and-a-half years of Kennedy’s term, ran successfully for president on his own in 1964, and was eligible to run again in 1968. He chose not to because of his unpopularity, driven in large part by the then-ongoing Vietnam War.
“By contrast, when President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 over a year after being re-elected in 1972, Vice President Gerald Ford became president and served the last two-plus years of Nixon’s term,” the Western Journal noted.
“Ford ran for election and narrowly lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, but had he won, he would not have been eligible to run again in 1980 because he had already served over two years of Nixon’s term,” the outlet added.
The chances that Biden will leave office between now and Jan. 20 seem remote, so it’s plausible that Harris could be presented with the opportunity to serve for a decade if she can win on her own.
However, that said, Biden has reportedly been urged recently to dump Harris ahead of the 2024 election because she is not viewed by her own Democratic Party as popular enough to beat virtually any GOP opponent.
In a scathing piece published by The Hill, Douglas MacKinnon suggested that Democrats could be “in a world of hurt” if they don’t “look beyond the current occupants of the White House.”
Also, the most recent polling for Harris remains abysmal.
“As of Jan. 3, 39% of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Harris and 53% had an unfavorable opinion — a net rating of -14 percentage points, according to a Times average. This page will update as new polls arrive. Since taking office, Harris has been assigned one of the administration’s thorniest issues: stemming the influx of immigrants attempting to cross U.S. borders. Republicans have sought to make her the face of an issue that they believe could help them politically,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Past polls show how the favorability of previous vice presidents changed during their first four years in office. Harris’ net favorability is slightly lower than that of former Vice President Mike Pence at this point in their respective tenures, and it’s well under the ratings of three previous vice presidents,” the outlet added.